INVENTORY MANAGEMENT AND                                        Y How to determine how much to order
CONTROL*                                                          and how often to order.

INVENTORY MANAGEMENT AND                                     Controlling Inventories
CONTROL concerns most managers of
agricultural marketing and supply businesses,                Purchase systematically. Place orders for
whether they are retail, wholesale, or service               materials long enough beforehand so there
oriented.                                                    will not be a shortage between ordering and
The value of a manager to an agricultural
marketing and supply business depends on                     Let the inventory become relatively low
his ability to manage inventories effectively.               before reordering but keep enough on hand
The total cost of maintaining the desired                    to meet current needs. There are costs
inventory level must be held down to a                       associated with keeping large inventories.
reasonable figure, but the inventory must also               Likewise, there are costs if you deplete your
be large enough to permit the company to                     stock.
effectively merchandise the products and
services it sells. If the manager doesn't                    Don't hold “dead” lines or items.
control his inventories to accomplish both of
these objectives, the business may not be                    Keep track of inventories. When stock is
able to prosper or even to survive against                   received, be sure that what was ordered was
competition.                                                 delivered. Make sure that the amount
                                                             received is added to the inventory.
The information in this circular suggests to
the manager ways on how best to do four                      Physical inventories should be taken
things:                                                      frequently to find out which items are not
                                                             selling so you can discontinue them as
    Y How to control inventories.                            quickly as possible, to spot shortages in
    Y How to visualize the inventory costs to                merchandise that may be due to theft, to note
      be included in determining how much                    deterioration that may occur, and to decide
      inventories are costing the company.                   when to reorder.
    Y How to determine the level of                          Make someone responsible for checking
      inventory that is most profitable.                     the inventory. Delegate the responsibility for
                                                             specific parts of the total inventory effort to
 By B.L. Brooks, Extension Economist, University of          the persons in the organization who are best
Illinois; reprint of Extension Circular 1063, October        qualified to do the job.
1972, with the kind permission of the author and the
Cooperative Extension Service, University of Illinois,
Urbana, Illinois.


Be sure those to whom you delegate                       The most profitable inventory turnover ratio
responsibility know exactly what they are                varies with each commodity. Generally, high
supposed to do.                                          inventory is needed for rapidly moving
                                                         commodities if the merchandising effort is
Use storage facilities efficiently. Assign               going to be efficient and effective. Good
space to each item in stock. Arrange the                 examples of this are feed and grain. Other
storage area to permit the handling of stock             commodities move more slowly but require
with the least amount of effort and in such a            that a small stock be on hand at all times.
way that stock can be easily found, the                  Farm machinery is a good example of this.
quantity determined and recorded, and the                The demand for some items, such as seed, is
stock removed if necessary.                              seasonal and requires large inventories at
                                                         certain times of the year.
Arrange the warehouse and sales area so the
items that sell rapidly can be most easily               Increase selling efforts or reduce the average
picked up by the customer or restocked in the            stock of slow-moving items. If an item can’t
display area readily by the employees.                   be sold, discontinue stocking it immediately.
                                                         Dead items are real losers.
Use mechanical means to handle and move
supplies whenever the volume warrants it.                Know the costs of inventories. Because
This will reduce the amount of labor used in             costs of inventories are very closely related to
handling stock.                                          size of inventories, the manager should keep
                                                         his inventory as small as possible consistent
Plan to use space interchangeably with                   with a good merchandising program.
seasonal items and thus reduce the cost of
storage space.                                           The costs of carrying inventories can be a
                                                         large percentage of the sale value of the
Be aware of inventory turnovers. Know                    inventory. The costs are often 20 to 25
what the turnover of each commodity is and if            percent or more of the total value of the
possible compare this with the turnover of the           inventory. The manager should know the
same items by other similar firms.                       costs of holding an inventory and then try to
                                                         reduce the price of an item to the inventory
Inventory turnover ratio is determined by                holding cost to dispose of the items instead of
dividing the volume of sales of merchandise              holding them in inventory.
by the level of inventory at a point in time,
such as the first of each month. For example,            Avoid holding lines of merchandise that
the sales of fertilizer in May amounted to               compete with one another. Stocking too
$143,000 and the fertilizer inventory at the             many lines is asking for inventory problems.
end of May was $16,300. The inventory                    Choose the lines of merchandise carefully
turnover ratio for May thus was                          and then vigorously sell a limited number of
$143,000/$16,300, or 8.8 to 1. That is, there            lines. Duplication of items that occurs when
was an $8.80 turnover of fertilizer for every            the company carries multiple lines can more
dollar’s worth in stock at the end of the period         easily result in larger inventories and
in question.                                             increased inventory holding costs.

A zero inventory, which would give you a ratio           Determining Inventory Costs
of infinity, would not be desirable because the
objective of management is to maintain the               Inventory costs are real but they are also
level of inventory at a level that will permit the       difficult to determine because they cannot be
most effective merchandising.                            taken directly from accounting records.
                                                         Inventory costs for individual items make it
                                                         necessary to prorate costs of equipment,


space, labor for handling, utilities, insurance,          Inventory service costs. These include
taxes on land and buildings, depreciation on              taxes on inventory; labor costs of
buildings and handling equipment, clerical                handling and maintaining stock clerical
help, unemployment insurance for certain                  costs for inventory records; contribution to
personnel, social security for all “space,”               Social Security by employer based on
“handling,” and “inventory service” personnel,            prorated time devoted to inventories by
and a proportionate share of administrative               employees; unemployment compensation
overhead. The cost of holding inventories                 insurance based on prorated time of
may make the payoff so great that the                     “inventory involved” personnel; employer
manager can’t afford not to do it. Also, when             contribution to pension plans, and group
inventory costs have been determined once,                life, health, and accident insurance
it is a much simpler task to make the                     programs based on prorated time of
necessary adjustments in each of the costs.               “inventory involved” personnel; and an
                                                          appropriate proportionate share for
One way to view the total annual cost of                  administrative overhead, including all
carrying inventory is as a percentage of total            taxes, Social Security, pension, and
inventory value. For example, if a company’s              employer contributions to insurance
average inventory is $25,000 and the                      programs for administrative personnel
average inventory carrying cost is 20 percent,            who are involved.
it will cost the company $5,000 per year to
carry an average inventory of $25,000.                    Capital costs. These include interest on
                                                          money invested in inventory; interest on
An inventory holding cost that is 20 percent of           money invested in inventory handling and
the average value of inventory is probably too            control equipment; and interest on money
low. Estimates of inventory holding costs for             invested in land and buildings to store
agricultural supply businesses usually range              inventory (if land and buildings are
from 20 to 35 percent.                                    owned).

The costs that need to be included in the total           Cost summary. The information about
inventory carrying cost are:                              the hypothetical company that follows
                                                          shows how a manager can develop a
   Storage space costs. These include                     better understanding of how he can use
   taxes on land and buildings; insurance on              the knowledge he has about inventory
   buildings; depreciation on buildings and               holding costs to make better management
   warehouses owned; rent (if paid);                      decisions.
   materials for repairs and maintenance on
   buildings; utilities; and janitor, watchman,        The company management thinks they have
   and maintenance costs.                              a high cost of inventory holding but they don't
                                                       know exactly what that cost is. Consequently
   Handling costs. These include                       they ask the manager to compute this cost.
   depreciation on equipment; fuel for                 The average inventory value in 1971 was
   equipment; maintenance and repair of                $25,000. This figure is arrived at by adding
   equipment and insurance and taxes on                the quarterly inventory values, which were
   equipment.                                          $21,000 on March 31, $33,000 on June 30,
                                                       $29,000 on September 30, and $18,000 on
   Risk costs on inventory. These include              December 31, to get a total of $101,000. This
   insurance on inventory; obsolescence of             results in a quarterly average of $25,250,
   inventory; physical deterioration of                which is rounded to $25,000. The manager
   inventory; pilferage; and losses resulting          computed the holding costs on the average
   from inventory price declines.                      inventory and found that they were as follows:


Obsolescence cost based on the                                          Comparing these percentages with the
value of the average inventory .........                $1,500.00       industry-wide wide averages, the manager
Cost of capital on the average                                          discovered that most of his costs were on the
inventory ...........................................   $2,500.00       high side, compared to those of the industry.
Deterioration of average inventory or                                   For example, his cost for handling and
its prevention ....................................     $1,250.00       distribution was 8 percent of the average
Handling and distribution costs of
                                                                        value of his inventory while the industry
average inventory .............................         $2,000.00       standard for handling and distribution of
Transportation...................................         $250.00
                                                                        average inventory was 2 to 3 percent of the
                                                                        average inventory value.
Taxes on average inventory .............                  $187.50
Insurance of average inventory…                           $125.00
                                                                        The manager then decided to summarize
Storage facilities cost on average                                      each of his costs and compare them with the
inventory ...........................................  $500.00          industry standards to get a clear picture
TOTAL .............................................. $8,312.50          regarding which of his individual inventory
                                                                        costs were higher than the industry
The manager also had available the average                              standards. He would then know which of his
industry-wide inventory holding costs listed                            costs should receive his attention. He
below:                                                                  prepared a summary of the percentage his
                                                                        costs were of the total average value of his
Obsolescence ................................            4 to 7%        inventory and compared each of the costs
Cost of capital ................................        8 to 12%        with the inventory standards as shown below:
Deterioration or its prevention .......                  4 to 5%
Handling and distribution ...............                2 to 3%                                                             Percent
Transportation................................          .5 to 1%                                                            above or
                                                                                                        Computed              below
Taxes .............................................   .5 to .75%
                                                                                             Range for cost for             maximum
Insurance .......................................          0.25%                              industry company               industry
Storage facilities ............................ .25 to .75%                                  (percent) (percent)               cost
TOTAL ...........................................19.5 to 29.75%         Obsolescence             4 to 7         6                   -1
                                                                        Cost of capital         8 to 12       10                    -2
The manager now compared his company’s                                  Deterioration            4 to 5         5                    ...
costs with these percentages by computing                               Handling and
the percentages that each of the company’s                              distribution            2 to 3                8             +5
average inventory holding costs were of his                             Transportation         .5 to 1                1             …
total inventory costs. These computations                               Taxes                .5 to .75           0.75               …
yielded the following information:                                      Insurance                 0.25             0.5           +0.25
                                                                        Storage facilities .25 to .75                 2          +1.25
Obsolescence .......            $1,500 is 6% of $25,000
                                                                        TOTAL Difference ................................         +3.5
Cost of capital .......            2,500 is 10% of 25,000
Deterioration or its                                                    These figures indicated to the manager that
prevention .............              1,250 is 5% of 25,000             he should reduce inventory handling and
Handling and                                                            distribution costs and the costs of the storage
distribution ............            2,000 is 8% of 25,000              space being used for the inventory being
Transportation.......                  250 is 1% of 25,000              carried by the company. The manager now
Taxes ....................        187.50 is .75% of 25,000              wondered whether he should also reduce his
Insurance ..............              125 is .5% of 25,000              average inventory which would consequently
Storage facilities ...       500 is 2% of 25,000                        reduce the cost of holding the inventory. He
                                                                        knew that he would loose some sales and
TOTAL .......... $8,312.50 is 33.25% of $25,000
                                                                        possibly some customers if he did because


he would not have a 100-percent stock                  Inventory holding                  Decrease in
position at all times. So he decided that he               decrease                       units sold 1
would try to determine what would be his                  4,400 units                         600
most profitable level of inventory.                       4,400 units                       1,800
                                                          4,400 units                       3,600
Determining the Most Profitable Level                     4,400 units                       6,800
of Inventory                                              4,400 units                       7,200

There is another cost associated with                  By reducing the inventory by 20,000 units, the
inventory management in addition to those              company will lose $23,000 (20,000 X $1.15)
discussed previously. This cost results when           in sales. This is far more than the $8,312.50
an item is not available or your inventory for         in inventory holding costs.
the item is zero. This kind of situation results
in the loss of sale immediately and might              At what point should the manager stop cutting
permanently lose a customer. Although a                his inventory, given the above decrease in
business doesn’t want to lose sales nor                sales with each successive cut in inventory
customers permanently, should it maintain a            he makes? Table 1 gives the results of the
100-percent in-stock condition, with                   manager’s computations.
associated high inventory costs, to forestall
these situations? Or would it he more                  It is obvious from Table 1 that the average
profitable to have a 95-percent in-stock               inventory holding costs are reduced as a
position? Any inventory management system              result of each cut. But sales are also reduced,
must weigh these alternatives and the                  so what is gained is partially, or totally lost by
manager must decide whether to maintain a              decreased sales. The manager decides to cut
100-percent in-stock position and pay                  his average inventory by about 10,000 units,
additional inventory costs or to carry a less          thus reducing his average inventory holding
than 100-percent in-stock position and lower           costs by about $3,775. His sales will be
his inventory costs while risking possible loss        reduced by a similar amount. Any further
of sales and customers. How can the                    reduction in inventory would not reduce the
manager make this decision?                            average inventory holding costs as much as
                                                       the reduction in sales and would result in a
Let’s go hack to the hypothetical company.             reduction of gross income.
The manager knows that for the $25,000
avenge value inventory he carries, it costs            A manager cannot reduce inventory to zero
him $8,312.50. He also knows that he carries           without losing sales volume. He can,
about 22,000 items in his average inventory            however, reduce inventory as well as the
with an average value of $1.15 per item. The           costs of holding inventory to a certain point,
average inventory holding cost per item is             which can be determined, that will be an
thus about 37 3/4 cents ($8,312.50 ¸                   optimum point for holding inventory from a
                                                       cost versus loss-of-sales standpoint. A
22,000). Now, suppose he decides to                    manager can do this only if he knows his
decrease his average inventory in five                 inventory holding costs and can then estimate
successive steps, which will reduce his                within a reasonable degree of accuracy what
inventory holding cost to zero. But he also            will happen to his sales when he cuts his
knows he will lose sales because he will be            inventory.
out of stock in some items when his
customers ask for them. He estimates that
the decrease in sales with each successive
20-percent decrease in inventory holding cost            Decrease in sales is cumulative. That is, the first cut
will be as follows:                                    in inventory results in a decrease of 600 in the number
                                                       of items sold, the next one in 1,800 plus the previous
                                                       600, or 2,400, and so forth.


Determining How Much and How Often                        represent the lowest cost because the total
to Order2                                                 cost for four units or for six units is not known.
                                                          A mathematical formula can be used to
The order cycle is the period of time that                determine the EOQ.
elapses between the order of the goods and
the receipt of the order. For example, if the             The components of the EOQ formula are:
company has sales of $700,000, the average                a = ordering cost per order,
daily inventory must he at least $2,000                   s = annual sales rate,
($700,000 ¸ 365 days). The longer the order
                                                          i = ineterest cost per unit per year.
cycle, the larger the inventory requirements.
Thus, if the order cycle is 15 days, the                  The formula is:
average inventory must be at least $30,000. If
the order cycle is shortened to 10 days, then
the average inventory requirement is at least                       2as
                                                          EOQ =
$20,000.                                                             i
There is a technique that can be used to                  Given the data in the previous example:
determine how much should be ordered. This                a = $15
technique is called the Economic Order
Quantity (EOQ). To determine the EOQ, a                   s = 5,200 units
businessman must trade off two costs --                   i = $0.15 per unit
ordering costs and inventory carrying costs.
Ordering costs are the expenses involved in               then:
placing a single order times the frequency
orders are made. The smaller the quantity                           2(15)(5,200)
                                                          EOQ =
ordered per order, the greater the ordering                             .15
costs because more orders are placed with
suppliers. The fewer the orders placed, the               EOQ =
lower the ordering costs but the higher the                           .15
average inventory and higher inventory                    EOQ = 1,040,000
holding costs.
                                                          EOQ = 1,019 units
Table 2 below shows how a least-cost
solution for EOQ determination can be made.               Thus, for lowest total cost, 1,019 units should
In this example, assume that the business                 be ordered about five times a year.
has determined (1) carrying costs equal to 15
percent of average inventory value (if the unit
cost is $1, carrying costs are 15 cents), (2)
order costs are $15 per order, (3) average
inventory holding costs are one-half of the
order quantity, and (4) total sales are 5,200
units per year.

The lowest total cost in Table 2 is found at
five orders per year. This is $153. However,
there is no assurance that five orders
 Adapted from unpublished material prepared by
Richard Fenwick, Extension Economist, Agricultural
Business Management, University Extension Division,
University of Missouri-Columbia.


                                   Table 1.--Results of Successive Inventory Cuts
                                         Inventory     Decrease in Decrease in            Net gain or
Inventory                                 holding     units sold with inventory Decrease   loss from
cut number                             decrease in      each cut in    holding   in sales  inventory
                                           units a      inventoryb      costc    volume d decrease e
1 ..................................      4,400                   600     $1,661    $ 690 $ 971 gain
2 ..................................    4,400                       2,400           3,322           2,760         562 gain
3 ..................................    4,400                       6,000           4,983           6,900      1,917 loss
4 ..................................    4,400                      12,800           6,644         14,720       8,076 loss
5 ..................................    4,400                      20,000           8,305         23,000 14,695 loss
    Total inventory is 22,000 units and the manager plant to cut 20 percent in five successive cuts, or .20 x 22,000 =
    4,400 units.
    Decrease in units sold is 600 for first cut, 600 plus 1,800 for second cut, 600 plus 3,600 for the third cut, etc., until
    the fifth cut when sales are reduced a total of 20,000 units by reducing the inventory to zero.
    Inventory holding costs are decreased about $1,661 each time (37 ¾ cents x 4,400 unity).
    Decrease in dollar sales volume is the decrease in units sold with each cut time $1.15 per unit.
    Net gain or loss is the amount saved by reducing inventory cost minus the decrease in dollar volume as a result of
    reduced sales.

                             Table 2--Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) Formulation
                                                                          Number of Orders
                                                     1          2           5      10       15               20          25
Size of order (units)                            5,200      2,600       1,040     520      347              250         208
Average inventory (units)                        2,600      1,300         520     260      173              125         104
Carrying cost                                     $390       $195         $78     $39      $26              $19         $16
Order cost                                          15         30          75     150      225              300         375
TOTAL COST                                        $405       $225        $153   $189     $251              $319        $391


         Ken D. Duft
      Extension Economist



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